Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Book-A-Day 2018 #205: Roswell Walks Among Us by Bill Morrison

There are some comics that look like they should be broadly popular, but aren't really. I don't mean everyone's favorite parlor game, Why My Favorites Should Be Everyone's Favorites. I mean that there are comics that look like the kind of stories Americans love: broad, funny, with sturdy vaguely stereotypical characters, easy-to-follow plots, clean lines, and heart to spare. And those comics feel like they're similar to the kinds of things Middle America likes in other media: movies about sports teams that win despite the odds, TV shows about a bunch of co-workers who make the world better, songs with way too much melisma and emotion to match, news stories about pets who cross continents to get back to their loving owners.

Those comics usually aren't all that popular, because the broad Middle American audience isn't the one reading comics, mostly. But they feel like they're a popular thing, even when they're not.

Bill Morrison's Roswell Walks Among Us is one of those comics.

It collects a three-issue 1996 miniseries, Roswell, Little Green Man, and a four-part follow-up ("How Ya Gonna Keep 'Em Down On the Ant Farm?") that was a backup in Simpsons Comics soon afterward, all written and drawn by Morrison with colors by Nathan Kane and letters by Tim Harkins.

The main and title character is the guy on the cover, an alien journalist from the planet Zoot who got stuck on a spaceship to Earth by accident and then stranded here when that ship blew up at an inopportune moment. (This may make him sound particularly accident-prone, but neither of those things was his fault.) Oh, and his real name is *#@!!#, which -- since this is a comic book -- is a horrible swear-world on Earth.

Anyway, he ends up in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, and wacky hijinks ensue. In fact, the story starts with the wacky hijinks, and only later doubles back to explain Who He Is and How He Came To Be.

He's chased by rednecks and befriended by a hot redheaded waitress (Julienne Fryes) who is also a world-class inventor, as well as the giant-rabbit-riding cowboy (Jasper Kudzu) who wants to get into the pants of that waitress -- or would if he were less well-mannered and this were less of an all-ages comic. The Army wants to capture him, of course, and they have a particularly histrionic ex-Nazi mad scientist who will do fiendish experiments on Roswell if they do.

There is quite a lot of running about at top speed, as you might guess. It is all good-hearted, and Roswell has a clean, pleasant line in a Simpsons Comics/Disney/animation-inspired style. And it does all feel like the kind of things that Mr and Mrs Middle America would lap up if it were in a medium that they paid attention to.

It is nice and pleasant and good clean fun and not all that much my kind of thing. Your mileage may vary.

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